The introduction of Web 2.0 has altered the way in which audiences, media industries and technology interact, and as a result the world has undergone changes on a technological, cultural, social and industrial level. In 2006 Time magazine announced that YOU were the person of the year, this was in reference to the year of user generated content, for the first time technology enabled people to be ‘producers’ of content. The term defined by Axel Bruns explained the hybrid form of simultaneous production and consumption of content (2007, p. 3 ; 2010, p. 17), fast forward eight years and the term is now used as a framework for user-led content creation. This shift in power has changed the relationship between customers and organisations, and revolutionized the way consumers interact with brands, the biggest changes has been the introduction of ‘co-creation’ and brand communities.
I recently discovered a network for graphic designers like me, known as Behance, the platform connecting designers, artist and creative’s; becoming a social network where members connect with each other, as well as organizations who seek to hire members for commissions and projects. No longer does the creative have to grovel and network in order to survive, but instead the work comes to you.
Sites like Behance offer “cost-efficient multimedia-rich interaction opportunities” (Füller & Mühlbacher & Matzler & JaWEcK, 2010, p.74), the online community’s facilitation of virtual co-operation was utilized during the development of Behance’s Android app.
CEO Scott Belesky tapped into the power of the Behance community by releasing the beta version of the android app two months before its scheduled release, harnessing member’s inputs on further development of the product (Mel, 2013). This virtual co-creation is a suitable means of creating value and improving the overall success of new products (Kornberger); here customers are seen as an important source of value in the innovation process. This ability to co-create not only improves product quality, but is an important competitive strategy that marketers should tap into; the ability to connect with customers strengthens the level of engagement and deepens the brand and customer relationship.
The ability for software developers and app creators to share beta version and monitor responses was introduced in the update that followed the launch of the Behance android app, creators like Moe Saad, and his Flybi IOS app (Saad 2014) is amongst the success stories, as the application was recently accepted and is currently in development.
This focus by Behance to target the creative web communities is yet another example of how “brands need to place co-creation and customer engagement at the centre of corporate practices” (Schau & Muñiz &. Arnould 2009, p.45) tapping into brand communities will create valuable for both the consumer and company and be a source of innovation and imagination in the 21st century
Bruns, A 2007, ‘Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation’, in Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC, p. 1 -38
Bruns, A 2010, Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and Produsage, Peter Lang, New York , pp 1-12
Mell, 2013, ‘Behance Android App – Calling all Beta Testers’, accessed 12/04/2014,http://blog.behance.net/teamblog/behance-android-app-calling-all-beta-testers
Füller, J & Mühlbacher, H & Matzler, K & JaWEcK, G 2010, Consumer Empowerment Through Internet-Based Co-creation, in Journal of Management Information Systems Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 71–102.
Kornberger, M 2010, How brand communities influence innovation and culture, in Consumer Media: Market Leader Quarter 3 , pp. 37- 40
Schau, H.J & Muñiz A.M &. Arnould, E.J 2009, How Brand Community Practices Create Value, in Journal of Marketing Vol. 73, pp.30–51
Fig 1- 3: Saad, M 2014, ‘Flybi IOS Application (Free)’, accessed 13/04/2014,https://www.behance.net/gallery/Flybi-IOS-Application-Free-PSD/15591279